Happy Halloween! This week’s “Noteworthy” includes some spooky selections, and some less so.
Working in recording studios for years taught me that there is good music in virtually any genre. Yet, I’ve always found that principle a bit stretched when it comes to pop-country. Perhaps all the long days (and sometimes nights) in Nashville studios jaded me, but I have little tolerance for the make-believe country personas that so many wear like Halloween costumes or the endlessly recycled tropes about tractors and trucks.
So, when Carter Faith showed up in my feed of new music, I felt it perfectly safe to skip past, given that my MO is to find noteworthy new music. But, when a session guitar player whom I worked with and admire posted about the album on Instagram, I decided to give it a spin. And I say with deepest hopes that Ms. Faith (actually, it’s Ms. Jones—Faith is her middle name—see, the persona thing!) will continue to keep the bar high for creativity: She done good.
Her Man EP, particularly given its title track, is all but guaranteed to piss off some in our culture of confusion about what a man even is. She feigns the soft, malleable female stereotype—
I’m fragile, I’m delicate
So lucky for your love
This is a man’s world
My pretty eyes can’t see
—only to flip it on its head, telling a double-crossing ex,
I’m man enough for the both of us
I’m man enough to quit
The truck is packed, no looking back
I’m sick of all your shit.
Of course, a person need not have a penis to have a spine (or a truck, ahem), and that’s the point, one lost on those who treat women like incompetents—incapable of thinking for themselves, setting their own paths, living their own lives. After “Unbreakable Wave,” a straightforward love song with a novel metaphor and gorgeous word painting, “Rodeo & Juliet” continues the independent woman theme, transporting us not to 16th-century Italy but to the 20th-century American Midwest for a story about a rodeo queen. Spanish-sounding horns conjure tumbleweeds, and Faith sings
Juliet didn’t need no man
That show and a bronco trophy
Were her slice of romance
“Rock n’ Roll Me” is Faith’s preemptive response to critics, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Man won’t appeal to all—again, I totally empathize if pop-country ain’t your thing. But this is not your stock, “off-the-shelf” pop-country, either. It was crafted with some care, and it may just hit you the right way if you’re in the right mood.
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